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Published:January 23rd, 2006 05:34 EST
Sharon in Coma...History's Friend or Foe

Sharon in Coma...History's Friend or Foe

By Saly Alhady

On January 4, 2006 (Sharon in coma) this was the main topic in all of the mainstream media, and it was his latest stroke in the last three weeks.  Sharon has a long political history that makes him one of the people most associated with many conflicting emotions from all over the world, especially in the Middle East.  However, who is the real man, you say? Is he “a man of courage and peace,” as President George W. Bush stated, or is he a murderer facing possible war crime prosecutions for two massacres?  

His name is Ariel Scheinermann, born at Kfar Malal in Palestine on February 27, 1928, to Shmuel and Dvora (formerly Vera)-- intellectually minded immigrants from Russia. When he was 14 years old, he joined the Haganah, the underground paramilitary force and the Jewish military precursor to the Israel Defense Forces. And at the age of 20, he headed an infantry company in the Alexandroni Brigade during the 1948 War of Independence.

In 1957, he attended the Camberley Staff College in Great Britain, after which, he served for over thirty years in the Israeli Defense Forces, moving through the ranks until he was raised to the rank of Major General. After which, he commanded in several wars, the 1956 Suez war, 1967 the six day war, as well as the 1973 Yom Kippur War.  He entered the Knesset in December 1973, by establishing the Likud.

In 1983, he resigned as Defense Minister after the government found him indirectly responsible for the massacre of Sabra and Shatila.  Sharon remained in the government as a minister without portfolio and then served as Minister of Industry and Trade from 1984 to 1990.  In addition, in 1998, Ariel Sharon was appointed Foreign Minister and headed the permanent status negotiations with the Palestinian Authority.

In a special election, which was held on February 6, 2001, Ariel Sharon was elected Prime Minister and served until his most recent stroke. 
However, there is another face to the story, which began long ago in his early years, which possibly makes him one of the most major war criminals in 20th century because he was in charge of some of the bloodiest events in the history of Israel.  Israeli Prime Minister, Ariel Sharon's personal history is intertwined with war crimes and crimes against humanity.
In 1953, he was responsible for his unit (unit 101), which killed 66 Palestinian civilians in the massacre of Qibya (a small village in the west bank) and buried them alive in piles of rubble, half of them women and children.

In 1956, he was involved in the execution of 273 unarmed Egyptian prisoners.  

From the evening of September 16, 1982, until the morning of September 18, 1982, there were between 460 and 3,500 civilians killed in the massacre of Palestinian and Lebanese at the Sabra and Shatila refugee camps, on the southern outskirts of Beirut. The responsibility also pointed to Sharon. 

On the other hand, he had a special ideology with peace decisions in different situations, such as his voting against the peace treaty with Egypt in 1979, and he voted against a withdrawal from southern Lebanon in 1985. He opposed Israel's participation in the Madrid peace conference in 1991. He opposed the Knesset plenum vote on the Oslo agreement in 1993. He abstained on a vote for peace with Jordan in 1994. He voted against the Hebron agreement in 1997. He condemned the manner of Israel's retreat from Lebanon in 2000. 

Now Sharon lay in the Hadassah Hospital in very critical condition, because he suffered a major stroke. Doctors currently do not know the extent of the damage to his brain, and medical experts have said it is unlikely Sharon will recover enough to be able to lead the country.  Therefore, most of the people think the story of Sharon will end at this point, and he will leave history to judge him in the next years to find him either guilty or innocent.